Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.
Reconciliation Council report B-7, dialogue between J.F. and Cleo 59D, recorded by James 72A
[Recorder’s note: J.F. begins.]
I used to work in maintenance. Kept the hatches between sections working, clean the grooves, make sure the computers that close them have good connection. The old hatches above, too, that used to let people in back when these were train tunnels, I had to keep those closed. Did my job. I was good at my job.
But you see, my wife and me, we had another kid. Not supposed to, we got a limit of two, but she got pregnant again and we wanted to keep it. So I guess I already broke the law once, and it wasn’t much more after that to start taking bribes from people to open the hatches when they shouldn’t be open. Let smugglers into factory and commerce. I even opened the Aboveground hatch in Section 15 once, went up those old stairs. Had to go at it with a crowbar, got rust and dirt all over me. That was dumb, all the noise, all the dirt. Didn’t even need a PsyOp to catch me then.
But he did. Not this lady, but someone else, big man with these weird blue eyes. [Recorder’s note: Logs state this was Richard 49A.] Made me knock myself over the head with that crowbar ’til I came back down the stairs. Still have trouble seeing good from the eye on this side. I don’t see as that’s my fault, either. If I was someone else, better educated maybe, better job, in Medical or somewhere, they’d have let me have three kids. I could’ve afforded it. Wouldn’t have had to take bribes. And he didn’t need to do that to me. He could’ve just made me come back down the stairs.
[Recorder’s note: Cleo speaks.]
It was Richard, wasn’t it? Lots of people were scared of Bee, but Richard was the worst. We used to say both of them were broken, him with the blue eyes, her with that pale skin and white-blond hair. Recessive genes breaking through on top of the Grays. That had to be bad news. But the two of them together caught more perpetrators than the rest of us combined. So we put up with Richard’s cruelty.
I chose to take his place here but I don’t think I can apologize on his behalf. That wouldn’t mean much, would it? And I’m not the person to question the policies of Refuge. We have to put a limit on the population. It’s that or get overcrowded to the point that we have to send people out into the pollution again, give them all cancer again. That’s why we have to keep the hatches closed, obviously. And is it fair to say that medical staff are more valuable than maintenance staff? I don’t have the answer to that. I wasn’t trained to ask questions. I was trained to do my job like everyone else.
Do you know what made me mad about Bee? She was just so sure of herself. She never had these arguments with herself. Every time I tried to read her, even if I caught her off guard, she was just this smooth face, no disturbance at all. She lived in maintenance for a long time, even after the rest of PsyOp found out she was an Empath. She probably knew this guy, probably ate dinner with his kids, just like she had a normal life. I grew up in a lab in Section 23. I didn’t get a normal life. I always envied her for that. I always envied her for her certainty, how easy it was for her, when I told myself I had to be certain even if I wasn’t. I couldn’t ask questions. This place depended on me doing my job or it wasn’t going to survive.
What is it going to do now?
©2016 Michelle M. Welch